Thu, Jun 18, 2009
What is your reading of Is chapter 19 and particularly vs. 24.
One interpretation could be that the post tribulation restoration is actually spearheaded first by Egypt, then Assyria and then by Israel. Or simultaneously by these three nations together?
This is a remarkable prophecy indeed. Particularly in view of the modern state of affairs. The modern nations that are situate in the territory of ancient Assyria are mortal enemies of the modern state of Israel. Though more moderate in its current policy towards Israel, Egypt is a host nation to many radical factions that are as anti-Zionist as any to be found in the Arab-Islamic world.
Assyria is often shown as confederate with a particular body of nations that were notorious for harboring an “everlasting hatred” against Israel (Ps 83; Ezek 35; 38-39; Obad). Significantly, those territories encompass most of the Islamic world of today. This makes Egypt’s absence in Ezekiel’s list of nations (Ezek 38:2-7) all the more curios, particularly since other southern powers are specifically named as co-belligerents in the invasion that finds Israel dwelling in false security.
Since I believe the evidence requires that the ten nations of the Antichrist are reckoned among the amalgam of nations listed in Ezek 38, I believe it can be safely concluded that Egypt is not one of the ten. This means that Egypt will not be in military support of the Antichrist invasion of Israel. This is particularly clear since we know that Egypt is not subdued by the Antichrist until well after the abomination of desolation has been set up in Jerusalem (Dan 11:31) and towards the end of the tribulation (Dan 11:42). So it seems beyond dispute that Egypt will not be among the ten nations of Antichrist that invade Israel to begin the tribulation.
In view of this prophetic background as it bears on the modern scene, the prophecy of Isa 19 is all the more remarkable for its promise of the final reconciliation of Jacob and Esau. It marks the end of an ancient hostility that is destined to reach its peak over “the controversy of Zion” (i.e., Jerusalem and the Land; Isee sa 34:8; Joel 3:2; Dan 11:39; Zech 12:2-3) in the days just before Christ returns. This is the context of the final tribulation, and it is certainly the manifest trend of current events.
This prophecy makes it evident that Egypt and Assyria will rejoice with Israel in the deliverance that comes at the day of the Lord, which New Testament Christians know as the revelation of Christ from heaven. So as the dust settles over the battlefields of Armageddon, we know that those left from among the nations will count it a privilege to assist in the post-tribulation return of the Jews back to their land (see Isa 49:22; 60:29; 66:20). Isa 19 is essentially a re-visitation of the spectacle of Gen 33.
After his long night of wrestling (Jacob’s trouble) with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob goes out with a limp (touched in the thigh of his strength) to meet Esau, the brother of the blood oath, who now falls on his neck with kisses and weeping. What a picture! So when Jacob has come to an end of his power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7), he will find the implacable hatred of his estranged and outraged brother has also come to its end in a glorious day of reconciliation and healing in the face of Jesus Christ.
It appears that all the nations that survive the throes of the last tribulation are made willing to acknowledge Israel and to facilitate Jewish return to the Land. With the finishing of the mystery of God (Rev 10:7), the humbled nations finally understand why Israel went into captivity (see Ezek 39:23). So this prophecy shows that with the coming of the great day of the Lord, all nations, including those of greatest historical enmity will voluntarily join in all that God has decreed concerning Israel.
But whether willingly or unwillingly (if we correctly read prophecy in the sense of its original intent), Egypt is particularly mentioned as under divine requirement to acknowledge Israel’s mediatorial primacy during the millennial period under threat of punishment (see Isa 60:12 w/ Zech 14:17-19). So while there will be great evangelism and regeneration among the nations, it will not be uniform as it is in Israel (Isa 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34). Among the nations, there will be pockets of resistance. That is why the millennial rule of Christ is depicted as a “rod of iron”, symbolic of divine enforcement against the ever present potential of defiance.
Of course, this is precisely why many prefer to read the prophecy of Assyria and Egypt in Isa 19 as a general reference to the coming of the new universalism in Christ. Of course, this is to ignore and pass over all the countless number of details that Isaiah and the prophets reveal concerning Israel’s special place and purpose in the millennial kingdom.
Blessed are those nations that join willingly in the wisdom and grace of God’s choice. Those who do will find blessed inclusion in all the glories of the covenant of grace. Those who cannot rejoice in Israel’s mercy are cutting themselves off from their own mercy. Because, God has always insisted that His mercy be mediated according to His sovereign prerogative in election and grace. Thus, God’s election of Israel is a supreme and divinely calculated test of the heart on this great point of divine jealousy. The tribulation and subsequent millennium will send this point home with utter poignancy.